Here Comes the Profit, Greece’s Stolen Beaches Open May 15


NATURA beach in Elafonisos. (Photo by Eurokinissi/ Antonis Nikolopoulos)

ATHENS - With signs people are already trying to return to near-normal life even during the continuing COVID-19 pandemic as a lenient lockdown was pulled back more, Greece’s New Democracy government will let organized beaches and beach clubs open on May 15 - but without music.

While the Greek Constitution says there are no private beaches allowed in the country, most of the shoreline on Athens’ coast has been taken over by private businesses allowed to operate for decades despite repeated promises by various governments to stop it.

That means people must pay pay a premium to use public beaches with the revenue going in the pockets of the beach “owners,” who run attached clubs offering food and drink, often at a big price.

General Secretary for Commerce and Consumer Protection Panagiotis Stamboulidis told state broadcaster ERT that alleged health restrictions already being massively ignored will be in effect, including social distancing with no word how that can be enforced on a beach.

Staff members will have to wear masks but that rule is often ignored or has seen workers wearing them below their noses, making protection against spreading COVID-19 negligible.

He said the screamingly loud music beach clubs play won’t be allowed because customers have to lean in close to each other to hear each other over the constant din and unrelenting racket.

That restriction also applies to bars that are being allowed to open with outside service only as of May 3 as the government wants to get the economy going again even as the Coronavirus still has the country in its grip.